Only one person could’ve done Kia’s “Walken Closet” Super Bowl spot.
Christopher Walken was the lone option. There was no Plan B.
It wasn’t ad agency David&Goliath’s job to create a character for the Academy Award-winning actor, says founder David Angelo. Rather, it was up to the creative team to let Walken “be him.”
In the 60-second fourth quarter spot for the 2016 Optima, Walken delivers an impassioned speech in a man’s closet warning him of going through life like an uninspired beige sock that could be devoured by bolder, more colorful options.
The sock analogy is actually a metaphor for a midsize sedan segment that’s often labeled as boring, so Kia stepped to the Super Bowl stage for the seventh straight time to show the world that the redesigned Optima has the pizzazz to stand out from the pack.
Angelo spoke with Staff Reporter Vince Bond Jr. about how Kia’s Super Bowl concept came together.
How did you come up with the sock metaphor?
Kia is a brand that has always marched to a different beat. As a challenger brand, they pride themselves on being nimble, resourceful and nonconventional, especially when it comes to their advertising.
This is Kia’s seventh trip to the Super Bowl. And we know we come together and root for the underdog to win the day. Kia Motors is the ultimate underdog brand. It’s not just our hope to win the day, we want to win the hearts of America every day after.
When it comes to celebrity talent, we look for like-minded brands that share Kia’s values for being authentic, nontraditional and exciting. Christopher Walken is just that. He’s an iconic, larger-than-life actor who transcends any specific genre. He’s sophisticated and unexpected, which are the same qualities you’ll find in the 2016 Optima. We sort of came up with this idea that positions Kia as the exciting, different choice of midsize sedan vs. a world of beige compromise.
That’s why Walken worked so well. First and foremost, the idea came first. The “Walken Closet,” at risk of stating the obvious, had to be Christopher Walken. We were very fortunate to get him and as you can see by the spot, he delivered in spades. He was perfect for the role because he personifies authenticity. It wasn’t our job to create a character for him, but our job to just let him be him. Christopher Walken is a pop culture touch point.
Another pop culture touch point is fashion. Statement socks have become a pop culture phenomenon and partnering up with fashion brand Stance to create a custom pizzazz sock is another way of connecting with a modern day audience. So using a sock metaphor is fresh way to introduce a new and exciting vehicle while depositioning the competitors. At the end of the day, the beige sock people get lost or devoured by the ones that stand out.
When you’re on a stage like Super Bowl, you can’t just bring the expected metaphor or the expected celebrity, especially when you’re Kia Motors and you’re outspent and out-branded by the competition.
After somebody watches this ad, what type of feelings do you want them to have about the brand?
We never look at this assignment as just being a Super Bowl spot. We look at it as a Super Bowl experience. From the two weeks prior to the actual Super Bowl spot, to a few weeks after. It’s all about creating a larger conversation around the Optima. Our goal, like any brand’s goal out there, should not just be this amazing commercial that you laugh at or are entertained by, but something that stays with you long after the game and makes you want to go research and possibly test drive the vehicle. That is our goal.
Besides socks, were there any other clothing items that were considered?
Nope. It’s just like there’s no other celebrity that we considered as well. Once we came up with the idea, we knew we had something really special.
What was Plan B if Walken couldn’t do it?
There was no Plan B [laughs] Sometimes, when you create something like this, you just have to put it out there and light as many candles as you can and pray that he’s going to agree to do it. We were very fortunate that he agreed to it.